Amarnath Yatra is one of the famous spiritual destinations. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva in the Amarnath caves. It is located in Jammu and Kashmir, India. The holy Yatra started on 29th June 2017 on the auspicious day of Skandshasthi and shall complete on Shravan Purnima – Raksha Bandhan on 7th August 2017. Lakhs of Hindu devotees visit this cave to pay the obeisance to the Shiva Lingam. This ice Shiva lingam is formed inside the 40 m high Amarnath cave. The water drips from the roof of the cave and freezes on the floor.
Along with Lord Shiva Lingam, Maa Parvathi and Lord Ganesha are also formed of ice. It is also believed that the size of the Shiva Lingam changes with the different phases of the moon. The cave is located at an elevation of nearly 3900 meters above the sea level, in a narrow valley 46 kilometers from Pahalgam and 14 kilometers from Baltal. Seeing the lingam and offering prayer once in a lifetime is considered to be of great religious significance.
The Government of Jammu and Kashmir makes all arrangements for the comfort of the pilgrims for undertaking the sacred journey for visiting the shrine on Shravan Purnima. The pilgrims are often seen during the 45 day seasonal fair during July- August, in the Hindu holy month of Shravan. Pilgrims have to travel through difficult terrains to reach the holy cave of Amarnath. They have to face the unpredictable weather of the mountains with piles of snow, rain and freezing temperatures.
The Centre and state governments have deployed 30,000 paramilitary personnel and the state police are working with them. The Indian Army has also deployed five battalions in the valley. Pilgrims are offered complete security, as they enter in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Pilgrims can travel to the holy cave by helicopter, horse, palanquin and by walk. Food and tented accommodation is also provided free or with nominal fee. Devotees chant religious mantras, “Om Namah Shivay” and “Jai Bhole” on their route to the holy cave. There are two routes the pilgrims can undertake to reach the Amarnath cave. Pahalgam route is the more traditional but the Baltal route is the shortest for the Yatra.
Jammu – Pahalgam – Chandanwari – Pissu Top – Sheshnag – Panchtarni – Holy Cave
Jammu – Baltal – Domail – Barari – Holy Cave
It is believed that Lord Shiva left all his companions on his way to the Amarnath caves. He left “Nandi” the Bull, at Pahalgam. He released the Moon at Chandanwari from his hair “Jataon” and on the banks of Lake Sheshnag he released his snake. At Mahaganesh Mountain, he left his son Lord Ganesha. Lord Shiva left behind the five elements – Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Sky at Panchtarni. As a symbol of sacrificing the earthly desires, Lord Shiva performed the Tandava Dance. Then, finally, Lord Shiva entered the Holy Amarnath Cave along with Maa Parvathi. Lord Shiva then took his Samadhi (state of concentration through Meditation) on the deer skin. He then narrated the Amar Katha, the tale of immortality to Maa Parvathi. In the legend of Amarnath Yatra, Lord Shiva represents the soul and Maa Parvati the body. Whereas the body dies and is born again, and the soul is immortal.
Despite of all the challenges, troubles and terrorist attacks in the past, every year lakhs of pilgrims continue to show their faith, love and devotion towards Lord Shiva. Passing through beautiful valleys, steeped mountains, is one of a peaceful feeling. They believe that Yatra infuses purification of the mind and motivates devotees towards the practice of meditation and if you want to get a glimpse of the Almighty and seek peace in life and thereafter, then this Amarnath Yatra will definitely bring you close to peace.